As many as one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 have been sexually harassed at work, according to a 2015 survey. Though sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace, it is difficult for victims to confront their offenders because they fear losing their jobs. Others are fearful of others finding out about the sexual harassment and feel embarrassed.
If you, a coworker, family member or friend believe you are being sexually harassed at work, take these steps to protect your rights:
1. Be clear and say “no”
The first step is letting your offender know about your discomfort. Let the person know what they are doing is not appealing to you. Do so in writing. This is important in putting the offender on notice that their conduct is unwelcomed and that they should stop.
2. Consider escalating the matter and complaining
If the offender is not willing to change their behavior even after you put them on notice, escalate the matter to a human resources person or to someone senior to you. In most companies, there are specific procedures for employees to report sexual harassment, which you may use. Again, document any complaints. If you experience any retaliation whatsoever, document and report those acts of retaliation too. You may also complain outside of your company to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or its state equivalent (in California it is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing), and ask the government to investigate your claims for free.
3. Consider seeking legal counsel
If notifying the offender or using all internal procedures within your company does not work, consider obtaining legal counsel to negotiate a confidential pre-litigation settlement or to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
You should contact an experienced employment law firm. At Allred, Maroko & Goldberg, we will fight for you and work with you to accomplish your goals — whether it be to obtain a confidential pre-litigation settlement or to file a public lawsuit and try your case in court.